The United States Mens National Team are set to play a pair of friendlies this week across the pond
in the United Kingdom. First they will take on Columbia at Fulham's famed stadium Craven Cottage, then they will take on Ireland in Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
As Jurgen Klinnsman grooms a new group for the four years leading up to the 2018 World Cup, the roster for this week's matches includes a mix of established and new players. For fans of the Portland Timbers, there will be three faces that they will immediately recognize as players who got away.
Mix Diskerud, Rubio Rubin, and Miguel Ibarra are all players that were linked to the Timbers in one way or another, and all three are with the national team for this group of call-ups.
Diskerud is perhaps the most high profile of the three, having moved into a regular role with the USMNT since the Timbers' unsuccessful attempt to sign him before the 2013 season. Timbers fans may not be too broken up about the loss of Diskerud's services, given that Diego Valeri was brought in soon after the Diskerud deal fell apart, but the allure of having a regular starter for the USMNT on your team is high for many American soccer fans; just look at the salaries commanded by players like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jermaine Jones.
Rubin, meanwhile, was almost a Timbers homegrown player, before instead taking a contract with FC Utrect of Holland's Eredivisie. Why Rubin did not sign with the Timbers is still an unknown, although several potential reasons have been put forward. Whether he did not sign because he always intended to try his luck in Europe or because he was not eligible under the MLS homegrown guidelines, Rubin is an undeniable talent who has started eight of Utretch's twelve games so far this season at only 18 years old.
Finally, Ibarra is perhaps the most galling of the three players, given that he was drafted by the Timbers and brought in to training camp in 2012 before eventually being cut from the team. Again, there is plenty that is not known about why Ibarra did not sign with the Timbers, but the fact that he was in Portland training with the team who controlled his rights in MLS, which likely expired this year, makes his rise to stardom a big miss for the Timbers.
The Timbers have not yet had a player capped by the United States since they joined Major League Soccer and, with the increasing premium being paid for current national team players returning to the States, it looks unlikely that they will have a veteran on the squad any time soon.
All three of the players above may have been missed opportunities to have a national team player in Portland, but each provide the blueprint through which it will most likely happen: bring in up and coming players and help them to succeed.